Creating a Timeline for Your Job Search

Staying on top of your job search process can be overwhelming, especially if you are crunched for time and are trying to balance your academic and work schedule. Creating and committing to a timeline to get things done can really help so things do not pile up on you. If you are just beginning your job search process, you can start by setting yourself realistic job goals such as applying to 5 to 10 jobs per week, whatever you are comfortable with. Or you might need more time to consider your next new job. You may need to do some self-assessment as your first goal, that is, look at your transferable skills and consider your interests, personality traits and values. You may also need to do some exploring of your career options and getting to know in more depth what specific careers are possible.  No matter where you are the process, it makes sense to give yourself as much time as possible to address each of these steps.

Perhaps you do know what you want. If you are already focused on your next job and want to dive right into your actual job search, then start by creating your criteria, that is, what would make the company or job position work for you? Then start to do your company research and make a targeted list of the companies that match up. You can do this through the Handshake system using the employer section at and select your chosen parameters such as key word, industry, size, or location. Then dive in deeper and look at the companies’ individual websites, read their mission statements, consider their history, and staff list in addition to checking out the careers section. Think about the matches that you bring. Why would this be a great opportunity for you? For them? Additional great websites to use for gathering company information are LinkedIn and Glassdoor.

Now create your timetable for applying. It is best to give yourself at least a semester, if not two, before you need to apply to accomplish all the steps mentioned above. The assessment, research and targeting of the companies will take some time, so check each job position application deadline and remember you will need to develop an effective and targeted resume and cover letter when applying.  Lastly, it may take time to hear back from each position, so create a spreadsheet to track who you are applying to and when you are sending out your materials. That way you can be sure to follow up with the employer after about two weeks if you have not heard back from them. Breaking the process down into mini-steps and giving yourself as much time as you can help you stay focused and you will see results!

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